HIGH Court Judge Justice Priscilla Chigumba on Friday 10 March 2017 set free Kariba-based Remnant Pentecostal Church leader Pastor Phillip Mugadza, who had languished in remand prison for 53 days after he was arrested in January for allegedly prophesying that President Robert Mugabe will die in October.
Pastor Mugadza had been detained in remand prison since he was arrested on Monday 16 January 2017 and charged with contravening Section 42 (2) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 alternatively criminal nuisance as defined in Section 46 (2) (v) of the third schedule to the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 for allegedly prophesying that President Mugabe will die on 17 October 2017.
His lawyers Obey Shava and Gift Mtisi were forced to petition the High Court seeking his release on bail after Harare Magistrate Vongai Muchuchutu on Thursday 19 January 2017 denied Pastor Mugadza bail. In denying Pastor Mugadza bail, Magistrate Muchuchutu ruled that the clergyman has a propensity to commit similar offences.
But Shava and Mtisi in their bail appeal argued that Magistrate Muchuchutu erred and misdirected herself in denying bail to the clergyman because the grounds of propensity to commit similar offences which she relied upon only apply to serious offences and to those accused persons who would have been convicted already of which that is not the case with Pastor Mugadza.
On Friday 10 March 2017, Justice Chigumba ruled that that Magistrate Muchuchutu erred and misdirected herself in her finding that Pastor Mugadza had a propensity to commit similar offences as this does not constitute a compelling reason to deny bail to the clergyman.
She subsequently admitted Pastor Mugadza on $50 bail and ordered him not to interfere with State witnesses.
Meanwhile, Harare Magistrate Lanzini Ncube on Friday 10 March 2017 postponed the trial of Pastor Mugadza, who is accused of insulting the national flag, to 20 March 2017.
The Remnant Pentecostal Church leader was arrested on Friday 18 November 2016 by ZRP officers for allegedly wearing the national flag without first seeking permission from Zimbabwean authorities.
Prosecutors claimed that Pastor Mugadza contravened Section 6 of the Flag Act by unlawfully and intentionally wearing or displaying the national flag without securing prior permission from the “secretary” as required by the Flag Act.
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